Weight loss club for cats

Graduation ceremonies are a terrific opportunity to cheer on the hard work and effort of those graduating. Whether it’s an academic, professional, or personal graduation, everybody deserves a rousing applause for their success. Or at very least, a clear way out of the building once the ceremony is over. …

Weight loss program for cats at the Sanctuary

The cats who graduate from the Biggest Loser club—a weight loss program for cats at the Sanctuary—may be graduates in every sense of the word but they still can’t leave the program until they charm their way into a home of their own. They’ve lost weight and look and feel better, yet they can’t move back in with other cats or the pounds come right back on.

Helping felines lose weight

Weight loss for cats is extremely hard to pull off in sanctuary settings. Caregivers have to put out enough food for all the cats in a given room. If they try to limit portions, the shy cats won’t get enough to eat. So there’s plenty of food at least for a given amount of time. And you might be surprised how quickly a truly determined cat can pound down the calories during that narrow window of opportunity. If a cat wants to eat a quadruple portion, there’s not much the caregivers can do to stop him.

Food portion control for cats

Which is why the Biggest Loser program began. The lobby area over at Cat Headquarters is reserved for cats who need to lose weight. In this controlled setting, the cats can be separated for feeding time and thus portions can be monitored carefully. There’s another consideration for weight loss regarding cats. Losing weight too quickly is unhealthy, even dangerous, for cats. It’s a delicate balancing act that requires regular supervision. The Biggest Loser club does exactly that and more, but there’s a limited capacity to how many cats can be in the club at once. As it happens, there is always a waiting list.

The current group in the Biggest Loser program have done fantastically well. They’re all ready to don their cap and gown and move on to a home all their own. In a structured home life, they can stay slim and healthy. Accordingly, here’s a quick rundown of the cats in the program, just in case anybody out there is looking for a sleek and charismatic college grad all their own!

Food sneak Andrew the cat

Andrew the cat may be the single most determined cat at the Sanctuary when it comes to sneaking extra food. He came to Best Friends from the Pahrump rescue. Even back in Pahrump, he was more along the lines of a "normal" sized cat, which turned out to be skin and bones for him. Once he made it to Best Friends, Andrew more than made up for lost time and gained weight quickly. In the Biggest Loser program, however, he’s already dropped over three pounds. Andrew loves people and got rave reviews on his first sleepover not long ago.

Callie is a world-class lap cat

Speaking of sleepovers, Callie the cat is one of the favorites among volunteers. She used to live in a home, so she has a leg up on the other cats in the Biggest Loser program (who, incidentally, all come from the same place as Andrew). Callie may not be much into physical activity, but she is the best lap cat ever to hold down furniture. She’d love nothing more than to curl up on your lap while you read a book or watch television. Even with her disdain for exercise, she’s managed to lose more than three pounds.

Cats Frisky and Patch

Frisky and Patch are two other cats in the program. These buddies are now great around people, as are the other cats in the club, but that wasn’t always the case. Frisky in particular once preferred hiding out in cubby holes or on high shelves. Now, though, both of them enjoy human attention. That’s the other fringe benefit of this program. Cat Headquarters is probably the most homelike environment out of all the cat buildings, not to mention it receives the most visitors. If a cat happens to be shy as well as need some weight loss, this is double the bang for their buck.

"Biggest loser" Puddy the cat loses over four pounds!

That leaves Puddy as the final cat in the program looking for a home. He has turned out to be the official "biggest loser," dropping over four pounds. Considering he now weighs under 17 pounds, that’s nearly 25% of his current body weight. Good for him! Puddy thrives on human attention, but he won’t solicit it on his own. If somebody can just approach him first, though, he’ll soak it up until they want to quit. He’s also the one cat in the room that all the other cats consider their best pal.

So there you have it, five graduates ready to take their place in the world. And with a long waiting list behind them, here’s hoping they can take those places soon. Congrats!

Read about obesity in pets in the Best Friends resource section.

Photos by Best Friends staff